Gravel & Shea, P.C. attorneys, Matthew B. Byrne and Robert B. Hemley prevailed on a motion to strike the complaint in a defamation action against the Rutland Herald and its former reporter. The plaintiff sought $212 million in damages because plaintiff claimed the newspaper had published stories about his having been charged criminally with making false allegations against the Windham County Sheriff. The Court ruled that the articles had reasonable factual support and that the newspaper and its reporter are protected from liability by the Vermont anti-SLAPP statute. Anti-SLAPP laws make it unlawful to file a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” that is intended to silence critics, like newspapers, by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense. Because the lawsuit violated the anti-SLAPP law, the Court held that the Rutland Herald was entitled to recover from the plaintiff the attorneys’ fees it expended in having to defend the action.
Gravel & Shea has once again been ranked as a leading law firm in Vermont by Chambers USA, an annual ranking of law firms and lawyers by areas of practice in each state. Gravel & Shea received a “Band 1” ranking, the highest possible, in Corporate/Commercial; Litigation: General Commercial and Real Estate.
The practice areas in which the firm received a top-tier “Band 1” ranking in Vermont are described as follows:
The Corporate/Commercial group is a “Highly distinguished practice group that is noted for its representation of midsize companies and is increasingly active in the renewable energy market. Recognized for the strength of its expertise in a spectrum of areas, including M&A, regulatory compliance and tax matters.” Clients say: “They deliver on the quality. They see the totality of the situation.”
The Litigation: General Commercial team is a “Strong group of highly experienced trial lawyers.” The team represents “an impressive stable of clients including energy utilities, retailers, publishers and banks on a spectrum of complex commercial litigation matters.” They also have “Notable expertise in a number of areas including contract disputes and securities class actions.” Clients say: “Smart and capable: excellent local counsel.”
The Real Estate group has “a deep bench of experienced real estate attorneys and is highlighted for its representation of developers and renewable energy companies. It offers particular experience in utility permits, property acquisitions and leasing.” Clients say: “The firm is highly qualified and very professional”.
Gravel & Shea attorneys included in the individual rankings are:
Corporate/Commercial (Band 1)
Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
Real Estate (Band 1)
Chambers USA is widely used by firms and businesses for referral purposes and many utilize the rankings and profiles of firms to find appropriate legal counsel. Firms and individuals are ranked in bands, and the rankings are developed through research and thousands of in-depth interviews with clients and peers in order to assess their reputations and knowledge across the United States. The guide reflects a law firm’s high level of performance in key areas including technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment, and other various qualities stated as most valued by the client.
In collaboration with the Vermont Community Foundation and Lucinda Bain of Morgan Stanley, Gravel & Shea hosted a gathering to honor the Vermont Women’s Fund. Gravel & Shea is a long-time supporter of the Vermont Women’s Fund, which is committed to supporting the advancement, self-sufficiency, and economic and social equality of Vermont women and girls. Over 70 Vermont women from various professional backgrounds attended to create networking opportunities with each other and raise awareness for the Vermont Women’s Fund and its program grant recipients.